Who called it “Experimenting with Coffee” instead of “X-phresso”?

Who called it “Experimenting with Coffee” instead of “X-phresso”?


A pair of philosophers teamed up with a beautiful food website and a fancy coffee shop to bring some experimental philosophy to the people.

Shen-yi Liao (Leeds, soon Puget Sound) and Aaron Meskin (Leeds) served members of the public coffee at Laynes Espresso to investigate whether first-hand experience is required to judge something’s taste and whether knowledge of a coffee’s moral status makes any difference to the way we experience its flavor. You can read about the experiments and their findings at Food&.

Among other things, the authors take this work to be an interesting and interactive version of public philosophy:

Recent years have… witnessed a renewed interest in doing ‘public philosophy’—philosophers getting out there and engaging with the public rather than just staying inside the so-called ivory tower. We fully support this trend. But we think that typical public philosophy efforts (op-ed pieces, public lectures) suffer from some drawbacks. In the first place, they tend to be a pretty much one-way affairs (i.e., the philosopher writes or speaks, the public reads or listens). And in the second place, they tend to be largely distinct from philosophical research—the philosopher does her research first and then transmits the results of that research to the public. Neither seems ideal for getting the public to really engage with philosophical issues.

We think our coffee events show that there is another way of doing public philosophy that avoids those drawbacks. Using experimental methods might allow for a high degree of public participation and interaction. And conducting studies in public, even informal ones, might help to close the gap between research and public engagement. If we get to talk about the subtleties of coffee with other aficionados while doing all that, well, that’s a nice bonus.

Yes, all very good. But now it is time to make Sweet Potato Hotcakes with Cashew Cream, Maple Bananas, and Coconut Bacon.

Other ideas for food- and drink-based philosophy outreach are welcome. (As are coffee-oriented philosophy puns.)

coffee owl cutout

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Internet Reader
Internet Reader
6 years ago

I like my coffee like my metaphysics: with different kinds of grounds.Report

Kenny
Kenny
Reply to  Internet Reader
6 years ago

I prefer single origin – I suppose it’s just my taste for desert landscapes and dessert landscapes though.Report

Hey Nonny Mouse
Hey Nonny Mouse
6 years ago

The authors see two distinct advantages to doing public philosophy this way, but I don’t understand the difference between them.

The OP states “But we think that typical public philosophy efforts (op-ed pieces, public lectures) suffer from some drawbacks. In the first place, they tend to be a pretty much one-way affairs (i.e., the philosopher writes or speaks, the public reads or listens). And in the second place, they tend to be largely distinct from philosophical research—the philosopher does her research first and then transmits the results of that research to the public. Neither seems ideal for getting the public to really engage with philosophical issues.”

I’m not seeing two different problems here. I agree that it is useful for public philosophy to be a two-way street. As we know from the classroom, there are advantages to having a discussion, rather than publishing a written work (and disadvantages too).Report

Shen-yi Liao
Reply to  Hey Nonny Mouse
6 years ago

Thanks! The distinction we wanted to make was that the first has to do with the relation between the philosopher and the audience, and the second has to do with the philosopher’s research activities and engagement activities. As you point out, as a matter of fact, we definitely think the two naturally go together!Report

Hey Nonny Mouse
Hey Nonny Mouse
6 years ago

I still don’t understand what the two benefits are. Why do we care about the relationship between the philosopher and the public exactly? Is it that we can benefit them more though such two-way interaction by, say, enabling them to ask questions? And then would the second benefit be the public contributing to our research?

Btw, I do want to applaud your interaction with the public, even if I’m not quite grasping your theoretical framework. It sounds like important work.Report